As you all know, I occasionally like to visit older romance novels and share the sexy, funny scenes that decorate our lovers path to happily ever after. After reading so many erotic and racy romances, it’s nice to take a step back and reminiscence with the romances of old that used far more subtly and nuance to describe the lust, anger, heartbreak, and joy that these couples felt as they fight their way to or from love.
Candace Camp is a favorite historical author of mine. There are very few romances she has written that I haven’t enjoyed. Her Aincourt Hearts trilogy is a frequent re read for me. Lively characters, steamy though not explicit love scenes, and well plotted story lines offers a nice balance of suspense and humor that keeps the reader entertained to the very end. What appeals to me most of her writing is her portrayal of the characters. Though she follows the dictates for the era she writes in, her heroes and heroines are strong, intelligent individuals who learn from their mistakes in their quest for love. There is of course the alpha hero who tries to dominate but he is often met with a strong willed heroine who is more then able to hold her own when he becomes a trifle over bearing.
The first book in the Aincourt trilogy is So Wild A Heart.
Hero: Devin Aincourt. Earl of Ravenscar. Arrogant, rude, and haughty. He is being pushed to marry a rich American Heiress in order to save his estate and pay off his hefty debts. Considered a desolate rake of the worst order, he figures he will marry this little nobody, hide her away at his estate, and live happily ever after with his mistress on his wife’s money.
Heroine: Miranda Upshaw. An american and daughter to a wealthy fur trapper. Beautiful, intelligent, and independent. Her father wants her to consider marrying a title. Miranda knows exactly the sort of man Devin is and if he thinks he is going to take her money and run…he has another thing coming.
The following scene is Devin proposing to Miranda after standing her up at a party thrown in her honor by his family to introduce them to each other. It’s not “smexy” so to speak but humorous and sets the tone for the book.
Miranda’s first thought was that she had been right. The man standing before her, handsome and tall, was the same man whom she had helped to escape his attackers last night. Her second thought was to wonder what had happened to all that man’s charm.
This man’s face was faintly bored and settled into lines of aristocratic hauteur. He was handsome, certainly, and his figure was slim and well-muscled in his perfectly tailored clothes, but the green eyes held no laughter or excitement now as they flickered coldly around the room and settled on her briefly.
“Miss Upshaw,” he drawled as he made an elegant bow in her direction.
“Lord Ravenscar,” Miranda replied in a tone as cool and distant as his face. She wondered if the excitement of the evening before had addled her brain that she had been drawn to this man. The Earl of Ravenscar seemed to be like every other arrogant nobleman she had met—if not worse.
Devin glanced at Miranda again. He hated being here. It was humiliating, degrading. It grated at his soul to be reduced to this—for however Leona or his mother or Rachel might phrase it, it still boiled down to his selling himself for this woman’s money. It was proof, he knew, of just how low he had sunk. Well, as Leona had pointed out, he was in the mire now, had been for years; he might as well wallow in it.
Still, it was hard for him to do. He had felt shamed as he had spoken to the girl’s father; he felt even more so now, facing the girl herself. But he had enough pride left that he would not allow them to see the way the humiliation scored his soul. His family, he reminded himself, had walked and talked with kings; he was not about to let some fur trapper or his daughter see him humbled. He lifted his chin and cast another look at the homely creature before him.
She was much as he had imagined her: dowdy in an old-fashioned, rather shapeless dress, her hair skinned back into an unfashionable bun, a pair of spectacles perched on her nose. She was without mistake a spinster, a plain woman who would be married only for her money. No doubt her speech and manners would be just as bad as her looks—a grating American accent and no idea what to do or say in polite company.
His eyes skimmed away again as fast as they had settled on her. He could not bear to look at her as he did this, so he fixed his gaze on a point just over her left shoulder and began his speech. “Miss Upshaw, I have asked your father’s permission to pay my addresses to you, and he graciously gave it to me.” He drew a breath and plunged on. “It would give me great pleasure if you would do me the honor of consenting to be my wife.”
He paused, waiting. Miranda stared at him for a long moment, scarcely able to believe what she had heard. She was so furious, she could hardly make a coherent sentence.
Finally, flatly, she said, “No.”
His mouth dropped open comically, and for the first time he stared straight at her. “What?”
His look of astonishment was so great that Miranda let out a giggle. “I said, ‘No,’ Lord Ravenscar,” she repeated.
”You are refusing me?” Not only that, the silly cow had the nerve to laugh at him!
“Yes, I am.”
“Good God, woman!” he burst out. “I hope you don’t think that you are going to receive a better offer!”
“My dear sir,” Miranda said crisply, “any offer would be better than the one you just made me.”
Let the games begin.